SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 7 Chapter 2, Verses 31 to 40 – Sankhya Yoga

Bhagavan Krishna further elaborates the importance of doing one’s prescribed duties or follow their Sva-dharma in these ten verses.  Arjuna, as a Kshatriya, is duty bound to engage in a battle to protect Dharma.  Shri Krishna explains that by not choosing to fight, he will not only incur sins but also lose his fame as he will not be lauded as a kind and benevolent. Bhagavan says that he would be ridiculed by his enemies and his people as a coward and for an honourable person like Arjuna that would be worse than death. Lord Krishna makes his final argument that if Arjuna fought and is killed he will get heavenly planes while if he was victorious, he would enjoy in this world and either ways, he had nothing to lose.

Bhagavan has now set the scene for explaining the discipline of Karma Yoga in his next set of verses.

2.31     Shloka 2.31


स्वधर्ममपि चावेक्ष्य न विकम्पितुमर्हसि।

धर्म्याद्धि युद्धाछ्रेयोऽन्यत्क्षत्रियस्य न विद्यते।।2.31।।
Sva-dharmam api caveksya na vikampitum arhasi
Dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo ‘nyat ksatriyasya na vidyate ||2.31||
Meaning: Considering your specific duty as a Kshatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation.

Svadharma means specific or ordained duties. The of “Varna-Ashrama Dharma” defines specific duties in terms of the specific modes of one’s field of specialisation. Kshatriyas are warriors and hence duty bound to take up arms to protect and maintain rule of law.  Brahmins are ordained to acquire and impart knowledge and are required to lead a life of austerity. Discharging one’s specific duty in any field of action in accordance with Varna-Ashrama Dharma serves to elevate one to higher planes of life.

Following of Svadharma is ordained by the Lord and this is elaborated in the Fourth Chapter. Until the attainment of “Jivanmukti” or liberation, one has to perform the duties in accordance with the “varna” principles in order to achieve liberation.

‘Kshat’ means hurt and one who gives protection from harm is called Kshatriya (trayate—to give protection).  Bhagavan Krishna responds to Arjuna’s question of what is the highest good with the explanation of “Svadharma” or the principles of righteousness. For a Kshatriya there is nothing more righteous than to engage in a battle to protect dharma.

2.32     Shloka 2.32


यदृच्छया
चोपपन्नं स्वर्गद्वारमपावृतम्।
सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ लभन्ते युद्धमीदृशम्।।2.32।।
Yadrcchaya copapannam svarga-dvaram apavrtam              |
Sukhinah kshatriyah partha labhante yuddham idrsam ||2.32||
Meaning: O’ Partha, happy are the Kshatriyas who get such opportunities to engage in a righteous battle that comes on its own accord, thereby opening the doors of the heavenly planes for them.

As Supreme teacher of the world, Lord Krishna censures the attitude of Arjuna who said, ‘I do not find any good in this fighting as it will cause perpetual habitation in hell.’  For a Kshatriya, it is his prime duty to engage in a battle to protect dharma. In the Parasara-smriti, Sage Parasara (father of Vyasa) states:
Kshatriyo hi praja raksan sastra-panih pradandayan |
Nirjitya parasainyadi ksitim dharmena palayet ||
Meaning: A Kshatriya’s duty is to protect the natives from all kinds of harm, and for that reason he has to engage in violent acts where required to maintain law and order. Therefore he has to conquer hostile kings and govern righteously.

Considering all aspects, Arjuna had no reason to refrain from fighting. If he should conquer his enemies, he would enjoy the kingdom; and if he should die in the battle, he would be elevated to the heavenly planes whose doors will be wide open for him.  Either ways, there was no reason for him to lament.

The words ‘Yadrcchaya upapannam’ means ‘arrived at on its own accord’; Bhagavan is emphasising that this opportunity has presented itself and any Kshatriya would embrace it with glee.  It is only the most fortunate among Kshatriyas who get such unsolicited opportunities. For a Kshatriya who fights bravely, a war brings fame and opulence in this life and the next. By engaging in battle for a righteous cause exhibiting outstanding valour one’s glory is guaranteed. But what happens to those who are slain in battle? Here Lord Krishna confirms that for the valorous who fall in battle there is an open door directly to the heavenly planes, the same as for the yogis who fall short of achieving liberation.

2.33     Shloka 2.33


अथ
चैत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं संग्रामं करिष्यसि।
ततः स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि।।2.33।।
Atha cet tvam imam dharmyam sangramam na karisyasi      |
Tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca hitva papam avapsyasi       ||2.33||
Meaning: If, however, you do not fight this righteous war, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.

Arjuna was a brave warrior who attained fame by fighting many great adversaries. After fighting Lord Shiva, who was in the guise of a hunter, Arjuna pleased the Lord and received Pashupata-Astra as a reward. Everyone knew that he was a great warrior and even Dronacharya gave him the special weapon, the Brahmastra (which Drona didn’t even teach his son, Ashwatthama). But if he abandoned the battle, he would not only neglect his ordained duty as a Kshatriya, but he would lose all his fame and good name and incur sins.

Now Bhagavan Krishna responds to Arjuna’s distress of not wanting to slay his kins such as Bhishma and Drona but instead is willing to be slain by them. The use of the word ‘atha’ is to emphasise another point of view that if Arjuna declines to fight this righteous war and chooses to disregard the instruction he will neither be happy this world or the world beyond.

2.34     Shloka 2.34


अकीर्तिं
चापि भूतानि कथयिष्यन्ति तेऽव्ययाम्।
संभावितस्य चाकीर्तिर्मरणादतिरिच्यते।।2.34।|
Akirtim capi bhutani kathayisyanti te ‘vyayam
Sambhavitasya cakirtir maranad atiricyate ||2.34||
Meaning: People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who is honoured, dishonour is worse than death.

Both a friend and philosopher to Arjuna, Lord Krishna now gives His final view on Arjuna’s refusal to fight. The Lord says, ‘Arjuna, if you leave the battlefield, people will call you a coward and taunt you.   For an honourable man like you, infamy is worse than death’.

By abandoning this war of righteousness, Arjuna would not only lose his excellent reputation but great misfortune would also befall on him. Bhagavan Krishna uses the word ‘akirtim’ meaning ‘infamy’ to emphasise that for an honourable man is worse than death. Instead of being called a valiant warrior, Arjuna, the wielder of the intrepid ‘Gandiva’ bow, would be known as a timid and meek person who fled the battlefield. Not only will happiness and fame elude him but the people will chastise him and speak of his act of cowardice openly.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is telling Arjuna that forever history will brand him for his cowardice. If Arjuna was to reply that public opinion is of no consequence to him, the Supreme Lord neutralises that by stating that for a person of honour possessing the qualities of heroism, determination, strength, courage etc., to accept infamy is worse than death. If he was to acquire disgrace of this kind death for him would certainly be much better.

2.35     Shloka 2.35


भयाद्रणादुपरतं
मंस्यन्ते त्वां महारथाः।
येषां त्वं बहुमतो भूत्वा यास्यसि लाघवम्।।2.35।।
Bhayad ranad uparatam mamsyante tvam maha-rathah |
Yesam ca tvam bahu-mato bhutva yasyasi laghavam ||2.35||
Meaning: The great generals who held you in high esteem will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear; thus they will consider you a coward and you will fall into disgrace.

Bhagavan Krishna continued to give His discourse to Arjuna: ‘Do not think that the great generals like Duryodhana, Karna, and other contemporaries will think that you have left the battlefield out of compassion for your brothers and grandfather. They will think that you have left out of fear for your life. And thus their high opinion of your personality will be ruined’.

Arjuna would belittle himself in front of all the mighty warriors headed by Bhishma, Drona and Karna if he was to leave the battlefield exhibiting grief.  All the warriors on both sides would think he left the war out of fear. As a Kshatriya never refuses to engage in battle.

2.36     Shloka 2.36


अवाच्यवादांश्च
बहून् वदिष्यन्ति तवाहिताः।
निन्दन्तस्तव सामर्थ्यं ततो दुःखतरं नु किम्।।2.36।।
Avacya-vadams ca bahun vadisyanti tavahitah     |
Nindantas tava samarthyam tato duhkhataram nu kim ||2.36||
Meaning: Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful than that?

Arjuna should properly fortify his mind and prepare for war with the firm conviction that embarking on the course of a righteous war is the guaranteed means for him to achieve moksha or final salvation.

2.37     Shloka 2.37


हतो
वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम्।
तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चयः।।2.37।।
Hato va prapsyasi svargam jitva va bhoksyase mahim |
Tasmad uttistha kaunteya yuddhaya krta-niscayah ||2.37||
Meaning: O’ son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planes, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight with determination.

Even though there was no certainty of victory for Arjuna’s side, he still had to fight; for, even being killed there, he could be elevated into the heavenly planes. Arjuna is called as Kaunteya to remind him that such conduct is indeed expected from him as the son of the great Queen Kunti.

In this verse, Bhagavan emphasises the word ‘hata’ meaning ‘slain’ that there is benefit in both scenarios i.e. if slain in the line of duty, he would be elevated to heavenly plane and if he was victorious he can enjoy the kingdom in this world. As both results give benefit,  Arjuna should rise up and fight.

2.38     Shloka 2.38


सुखदुःखे
समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ।
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि।।2.38।।
Sukha-duhkhe same krtva labhalabhau jayajayau       |
Tato yuddhaya yujyasva naivam papam avapsyasi ||2.38||
Meaning: Being equipoised in happiness and distress, profit and loss, victory and defeat; thereafter prepare for the battle with that mind-set and, by so doing, you will never incur sin.

That everything should be performed as a righteous duty with equipoise and without attachment to the results, so that there is no sinful reaction. He who acts for his own sense gratification, either in goodness or in passion, is subject to the reaction, good or bad. But he who has completely surrendered all the activities in the name of the Lord, that person no longer accrues any karmic reaction from the course of his activities. It is said:
Devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam na kinkaro nayamrni ca rajan    |
Sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato Mukundam parihrtya kartam ||(SB 11.5.41)
Meaning: O’ King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full refuge of the lotus feet of Mukunda (who offers shelter to all), is not indebted to the Devas, the great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord’s service has no need to serve such persons separately.

Now Lord Krishna refutes Arjuna previous worry about accruing sin by killing his kins with the words ‘sukha’ and ‘dukha’ meaning happiness and sorrow. Although the pleasure of happiness and the pain of sorrow in fighting this righteous war is inevitable; it must still be considered as pertaining to the body only and not to the soul which is distinctly different from the physical body. Profit and gain, victory and defeat even without considering the goal of heaven, Arjuna should prepare to fight for the sole purpose of exclusively fulfilling his duty. Thus fixed in this determination with proper understanding if he slays anyone he will not incur sin. By doing so, Arjuna will avoid the sin he would otherwise incur by refraining from the battle and not performing his duty.

2.39     Shloka 2.39


एषा
तेऽभिहिता सांख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां श्रृणु।
बुद्ध्यायुक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि।।2.39।।
Esa te ‘bhihita sankhye buddhir yoge tv imam srnu |
Buddhya yukto yaya partha karma-bandham prahasyasi ||2.39||
Meaning:  Thus far I have explained to you the spiritual knowledge of Sankhya philosophy. Now listen to the knowledge of Karma Yoga which will bestow you with spiritual intelligence when you perform actions without fruitive desires. This will completely release you from the bondage of reactions arising from actions.

The use of the word ‘Sankhya’ in this Shloka denotes proper understanding. The principle of Soul as the eternal, immortal and unchanging must be understood properly and once Arjuna comprehends it fully, he would know that there is no cause to grieve as the soul is immortal.

The word ‘Yoga’ in this Shloka denotes ‘Karma Yoga’ which is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness through desire-less actions. It is to be understood that the spiritual intelligence acquired by following the yoga of actions when based on Sankhya or proper understanding of the knowledge of the soul is the path that leads to salvation. Imbibing the wisdom from it will cut asunder the bonds of karmic reactions.

It is important to draw the distinction between ‘Sankhya’ mentioned in this Shloka and the Sankhya philosophy of Sage Kapila which is atheistic. The Sankhya mentioned here takes an analytical approach to explain the distinction between the body and the soul. Bhagavan Shri Krishna gives a description of the soul to make Arjuna understand it from a different perspective.

Having instructed the true knowledge of the soul as being distinctly different from the physical body and seeing that this knowledge has still not been firmly embedded in Arjuna’s heart, Lord Krishna reiterates this truth again in order to illustrate that this knowledge never becomes firmly embedded without practice of the means which is yoga. To do this He introduces the yoga path of selfless actions as the means to this end.

Thus, the reality is to perform all actions under the direction of one’s mind well nurtured with spiritual knowledge. Bhagavan explains that the performance of actions by the renunciation of the rewards, Arjuna will be completely free from transmigration in the material existence.

2.40     Shloka 2.40


नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति
प्रत्यवायो विद्यते।
स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात्।।2.40।।
Nehabhikrama-naso ‘sti pratyavayo na vidyate |
Sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat ||2.40||
Meaning: In this endeavour there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.

While one should strive to achieve a complete state of equipoise and perform duties without desiring fruitive results, even a small advancement towards such a path is better than engaging in actions purely for material gains. Bhagavan basically is saying “well begun is half done” and even if such pursuits are not fully completed, it will protect one from the gravest of fears. In the case of Ajamila, while he performed his duty in some small measure early in his life, he still benefited from it in the end by the grace of the Lord.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam, it states:
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer bhajan na pakko ‘tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vabhadram abhud amusya kim ko vartha apto ‘bhajatam sva-dharmatah ||SB 1.5.17||
Meaning: If someone gives up material pursuits and occupation and then falls short on account of not being able to fully complete it, what unfavourable thing can happen to him (i.e. nothing is lost)? And, what can one gain if one performs his material activities perfectly?” 

All actions executed by a living entity as a Yoga, by surrendering the results to the Supreme, it leads to attaining salvation, which is the science for the Soul (Self) to attain communion with the Ultimate Consciousness.

The essence of this verse is that all ordained daily duties (nitya karmas) and all occasional rites (naimittika karmas) for specific times as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures shall be performed with the sole aim of ultimate salvation. Although each rite individually is capable of giving its own temporary material reward; but all such rewards are to be accepted with humility (as ‘Ishwara prasada’) while holding focus solely on salvation.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

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SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 6 – Chapter 2, Verses 21 to 30 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan continues with his explanation on the immortality and immutability of the Soul.  He explains that the Soul is sub-atomic, subtler than the subtlest, that which cannot be cut or burnt nor destroyed.  It is incomprehensible, unimaginable, immeasurable, eternal and a wonder.  For a knower of this, there is no cause for lamentation and hence Bhagavan says ‘na tvam socitam arhasi’ meaning there Arjuna should not despair over the physical body and do his duty as a Kshatriya, as the physical body will decay and cease to exist one way or another.  Bhagavan Krishna says, even if he thought the soul will perish with the body, the universal law is that anything born will die and will be reborn again.  So even if it perished, it will come back again and hence, even with this (mis)understanding there was no cause for lamentation.

The Lord now concludes His instruction on the immutability of the Soul.

2.21     Shloka 2.21

वेदाविनाशिनं नित्यं य एनमजमव्ययम्।
कथं स पुरुषः पार्थ कं घातयति हन्ति कम्।।2.21।।
Vedavinasinam nityam ya enam ajam avyayam   |
Katham sa purusah partha kam ghatayati hanti kam ||2.21||
Meaning: O’ Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, unborn, eternal and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?

A person who is situated in complete knowledge develops a wisdom to know when and where to apply apply that knowledge. For e.g. a punishment to hang a terrorist is in the larger interest of the society. Similarly, when Bhagavan Shri Krishna orders Arjuna to fight, it must be concluded that the violence is justified as it is to restore Dharma.

One who understands that the eternal soul is incapable of being destroyed, knows that it cannot be slain. The word ‘avinasinam’ means indestructible, ‘nityam’ means eternal and therefore by its own inherent nature the soul is imperishable and immortal. Therefore, it is ignorance of the eternal nature of the soul is the cause of all grief.

2.22     Shloka 2.22

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।।2.22।।
Vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ‘parani       |
Tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navani dehi ||2.22||
Meaning: As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

Transference of the atomic individual soul to another body is made possible by the grace of the Supersoul. The scriptures, like the Mundaka Upanishad and the Svetasvatara Upanishad, compare the soul and the Supersoul to two friendly birds perched on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual soul – JivAtma) is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird (Supersoul – ParamAtma) is simply observing His friend. Of these two birds—although they are the same in quality—one is captivated by the fruits of the material tree, while the other is simply witnessing the activities of His friend.

The JivAtma is struggling very hard on the tree (metaphor for the material body). But as soon as the Jiva surrenders to the other bird as the Supreme spiritual master—as Arjuna agreed to voluntary surrender unto Bhagavan Shri Krishna for instruction—the subordinate bird immediately becomes free from all lamentations.

Both the Katha Upanisad and Svetasvatara Upanisad confirm this:
Samane vrkse puruso nimagno ‘nisaya socati muhyamanah
Justam yada pasyaty anyam isam asya mahimanam iti vita-sokah
Meaning: Although the two birds are in the same tree, the eating bird is fully engrossed with anxiety and moroseness as the enjoyer of the fruits of the tree. But through some way or the other if it turns its attention to his friend (the ParamAtma), even for a fraction of time, and knows His glories—at once the suffering bird becomes free from all anxieties.

Arjuna has now turned his attention towards his eternal friend, Bhagavan Shri Krishna, and is gaining knowledge from Him. One who lays down his life in the line of one’s duty, is at once cleansed of bodily reactions and promoted to a higher planes of life. So, there was no cause for Arjuna to lament.

While it can be understood that the soul is indestructible and not to be lamented for; the physical body is destructible and any attachment to it leads to despair. With the termination in battle of the physical body of a very dear one such as preceptor or the loved ones, the separation will undoubtedly cause deep lamentation. To clarify this Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that just as there is no grief when one discards old worn out garments and there is joy in accepting new garments, in the same way the embodied soul discarding old worn out bodies joyfully accepts new ones.

2.23     Shloka 2.23

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः।।2.23।।
Nainam chindanti sastrani nainam dahati pavakah      |
Na cainam kledayanty apo na sosayati marutah      ||2.23||
Meaning: The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

All kinds of weapons, swords, flames, rains, tornadoes, etc., cannot to destroy the Atma. Nor was it ever possible to cut the individual souls from the original Soul.

Although only one use of the word ‘na’ meaning ‘never’ would have been sufficient to establish the premise of utter futility in trying to destroy the soul, it is used four times to emphasise that there is not even the slightest iota of doubt about this indestructability of the Soul (Atma).

2.24     Shloka 2.24

अच्छेद्योऽ यमदाह्योऽ यमक्लेद्योऽ शोष्य एव च।
नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुरचलोऽयं सनातनः।।2.24।।
Acchedyo ‘yam adahyo ‘yam akledyo ‘sosya eva ca     |
Nityah sarva-gatah sthanur acalo ‘yam sanatanah ||2.24||
Meaning: This individual soul is unbreakable, insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

Weapons are powerless to inflict any injury by cutting or piercing, fire is powerless to burn, water is powerless to wet and air is powerless to dry the eternal soul. The soul having the propensity of pervading everything being capable by its nature of interpenetrating all substances. It is subtler than any substance and no substance can penetrate it. The effects of cutting, burning, soaking, drying and others which takes place by weapons, fire, water, air and the rest penetrate the object which is the focus of their direction; but due to its impregnable nature the soul is uninfluenced being beyond the scope of the material substratum. Hence the eternal soul is unchangeable, immovable and everlasting.

The word ‘Sarva-gatah’ meaning ‘all-pervading’ is significant because there is no doubt that living entities are God’s creation. They live on the land, in water, in the air, within the earth and even within fire. The belief that they are sterilized in fire is not acceptable, because it is clearly stated here that the soul cannot be burned by fire. Therefore, there is no doubt that there are living entities also in the Sun with suitable bodies that can live there. If the Sun is uninhabited, then the word ‘Sarva-gatah’ becomes meaningless.

Being all pervasive the soul is extremely subtle, tinier than atoms. Being the subtlest of the subtle it is ‘sthanuh’ or unchangeable as it is incapable of being modified in any way. As it is ‘acalah’ or permanent it is devoid of any change and is constant. As it is constant, it is ‘sananatah’ or ancient and eternally existing.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is stating that just as He is indestructible, so is the eternal soul within the living entities born from the womb of a female that was born from the womb of a female.

This existence never ceasing to exist is known as immovable and because He is identified by the primal sound Om He is eternally resonating and perennial. The Vishnu Purana states that the immortal soul is eternally existing under the control of the Bhagavan. Therefore, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is saying to Arjuna that he need not lament because He always redeems them.

2.25     Shloka 2.25

अव्यक्तोऽ यमचिन्त्योऽ यमविकार्योऽ यमुच्यते।
तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि।।2.25।।
Avyakto ‘yam acintyo ‘yam avikaryo ‘yam ucyate    |
Tasmad evam viditvainam nanusocitum arhasi   ||2.25||
Meaning:  It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.

The word ‘avyaktah’ means invisible or imperceptible this is because the eternal soul being totally transcendental to the material existence cannot be practically examined as can objects which possess qualities of a physical nature.

The word ‘acintyah’ means inconceivable because the eternal soul is impossible to perceive by the mind and the senses being in every way transcendental to the material substratum which is what the consciousness of the living entities base their understanding on. The eternal soul differs from all other existences and levels of existence is in transcendence. Therefore it is ‘avikaryah’ or unchangeable and immutable. The Supreme Lord Krishna instructs that by knowing the eternal soul to be immortal there is no cause for grief (nanu’socitum arhasi).

It might be questioned that if the Supreme Lord is all pervading, then why is He not visible? The reason for this is that because He is inconceivable and invisible with the five senses that we have been endowed with. Whatever form He exhibits, He alone manifests in them fully. The words like ‘enam’ and ‘ayam’ indicate the eternal soul in living entities has the same qualitative attributes as the Supreme Lord but is infinitesimal quantitatively.

The Supreme Being is known to be both possessing a body and devoid of body. This is because He possesses a spiritual transcendental body and not a physical body. Because His body is not constituted of the elements of material nature, it is said to be a-dehah. The head, the feet, the arms and other parts of this spiritual, transcendental body are made up of the Supreme Lord Himself. There exists nothing which is distinctive from this spiritual, transcendental nature which can be called His body, therefore He is called a-dehah without body. He Himself is His form and this spiritual, transcendental form is eternally existing beyond the scope of material existence.

2.26     Shloka 2.26

अथ चैनं नित्यजातं नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम्।
तथापि त्वं महाबाहो नैवं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.26।।
Atha cainam nitya-jatam nityam va manyase mrtam       |
Tathapi tvam maha-baho nainam socitum arhasi        ||2.26||
Meaning: If, however, you think that the soul is perpetually born and always dies, still you have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed.

There is always a class of philosophers who do not believe in the separate existence of the soul beyond the body. So, even if Arjuna did not believe in the existence of the soul there would still have been no cause for lamentation as it will be born again.

2.27     Shloka 2.27

जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च।
तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.27।।
Jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur dhruvam janma mrtasya ca     |
Tasmad apariharye ‘rthe na tvam socitum arhasi        ||2.27||
Meaning: For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

For one who is born death is certain. This is because of the reality of a fixed time limit of the existence of the physical body. The fact that this reality is inevitable.  Rebirth is due to the nature of activities performed in one’s previous existence which causes one to be continuously connected to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, it does not befit someone like Arjuna to grieve over the unavoidable cycle of birth, death and rebirth which is dependent on prior actions. 

One has to take birth according to one’s activities of life. And, after finishing one term of activities, one has to die to take birth for the next. In this way the cycle of birth and death is revolving, one after the other without liberation. This cycle of birth and death does not, however, support unnecessary murder, slaughter and war. But at the same time, violence and war are inevitable factors in human society for keeping law and order.

The Battle of Kuruksetra, being the will of the Supreme, was an inevitable event, and to fight for the right cause is the duty of a kshatriya. Why should Arjuna be afraid of or aggrieved at the death of his relatives since he was discharging his proper duty? By avoiding the discharge of his proper duty, he would not be able to stop the death of his relatives, and he would be degraded due to his selection of the wrong path of action.

Therefore understanding the reality of the existence of birth and death there should be no delusion.

2.28     Shloka 2.28

अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत।
अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना।।2.28।।
Avyaktadini bhutani vyakta-madhyani bharata        |
Avyakta-nidhanany eva tatra ka paridevana       ||2.28||
Meaning: All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?

In this verse the Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains the fact that here on Earth whatever happened before birth is unknown by the use of the word ‘avyaktadini’. Living entities like human beings though eternally existing due to the auspices of each one’s eternal soul have an unknown origin before birth, a manifest condition from birth to death and proceed again to an unknown existence at the termination of the physical body. Such alternations constitute material existence and are a natural law. This then gives no cause to grieve. Having just shown that even if one erroneously was under the misapprehension that the physical body itself and the eternal soul are the same; there is still no reason to grieve.

If we were to accept our origin as being non-existent, because it is subatomic it is imperceptible, it is still existing then we can accept that all things appear from the five material elements for e.g. a giant tree emerging from a tiny seedling. Therefore in the matter of the existence of living entities, the unmanifest that is imperceptibly subtle, transforms itself into the manifest by modification which is known as birth and after some time again transforms itself into the unmanifest which is known as death. So when the correct understanding of birth and death is realised then what possibly is the necessity for lamentation? This is not befitting for one who is situated in spiritual intelligence.

It should not under any circumstances be erroneously assumed or mistakenly believed that from a non-existent condition the existent was produced and that because of the cause being non-existent then the effect is non- existent and thus the world is also non-existent. How can it be reconciled that the something can be produced from nothing?  That is a preposterous hypothesis that existence can manifest from the non-existent.

2.29     Shloka 2.29

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्िचदेन माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः।
आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः श्रृणोति श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्िचत्।।2.29।।
Ascarya-vat pasyati kascid enam ascarya-vad vadati tathaiva canyah       |
Aascarya-vac cainam anyah srnoti srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit ||2.29||
Meaning: Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.

The soul is always referred to as being eternal. This is because it is immutable by nature. The soul is extremely difficult to realise due to its supra-subtlety but it does not become perceptible simply because it is different from the physical body. So the soul is referred to in this verse as being amazing. It is those beings out of millions of beings who by devotion to Lord Krishna have received the mercy to be free from physical attachment and purify their hearts in order to perceive their soul, they see the soul as amazing. In what way is the soul amazing? The soul is more amazing than anything experienced previously because it is transcendent to everything experienced in the material existence.

It is not only amazing to the one who perceives the soul as amazing but also to the preceptor who describes the soul as amazing and to the disciple who learns from the preceptor that the soul is amazing as well. There is nothing in material existence that the soul can be compared with. So some others although hearing about the soul are still unable to comprehend it. The understanding is that the perceiver of the soul, the preceptor who describes the soul and the disciple who learns about the soul are all exceedingly difficult to gain association with in life.

In the Katha Upanishad, it states:
sravanayapi bahubhir yo na labhyah srnvanto ‘pi bahavo yah na vidyuh |
ascaryo vakta kusalo ‘sya labdha ascaryo jnata kusalanusistah ||
Meaning:  The fact that the soul that is sub-atomic is within the body of a gigantic animal, in the body of a gigantic banyan tree, and also in the microbe sized germs, millions and billions of which occupy only an inch of space, is certainly very amazing. Men with poor knowledge and men who are not austere cannot understand the wonders of the individual atomic spark of spirit, even though it is explained by the greatest authority of knowledge.

Owing to a gross material conception of things, most cannot imagine how such a small particle can become both so great and so small. So men look at the soul proper as wonderful either by constitution or by description.

In the Vishnu Sahasranamam, Bhagavan is described in extreme contrasts in Shloka 90:
Anur Brihat Krishas Sthulo Gunabhrin Nirguno Mahaan |
Meaning:  He is Atomic, Gigantic, Thin, lightweight, Oversized and heavy, having all contrasting attributes making Him Incomprehensible to the human faculties.

Quite similarly, the Atma is all of the above (though a tiny part of the Supersoul) and cannot be comprehended with the five senses that humans possess.

In the Brahma Tarka it is stated thus:
Amazing indeed is the Supreme Lord and it is not possible to find any other comparable form to Him. Therefore wisdom about Him is very similar to perceiving Him. 

2.30     Shloka 2.30

देही नित्यमवध्योऽयं देहे सर्वस्य भारत।
तस्मात्सर्वाणि भूतानि न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.30।।
Dehi nityam avadhyo ‘yam dehe sarvasya bharata     |
Tasmat sarvani bhutani na tvam socitum arhasi    ||2.30||
Meaning: O’ descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore, you need not grieve for any creature.

The Lord now concludes His instruction on the immutability of the Soul. In describing the immortal soul in various ways, Lord Bhagavan Shri Krishna establishes that the soul is immortal and the body is temporary. Therefore Arjuna as a khsatriya should not abandon his duty out of fear that his grandfather and teacher—Bhishma and Drona—will die in the battle.

In the Padma Purana it states:
Establishing Himself within the heart of every living entity the Supreme Lord protects each and every living entity eternally. Permanent objects like the immortal soul are protected eternally and impermanent objects such as the physical body are protected temporarily. In His manifested form or in His unmanifest presence, appearing or not appearing, throughout the material existence the Bhagavan Shri Krishna maintains and sustains all living entities for their highest good.

The eternal soul embodied within the physical body regardless whether it is a human earthly body or the physical bodies possessed by the demigods in the heavenly spheres; the immortal soul is eternally invulnerable even though the body perishes. Hence, understanding this principle as fundamental and the existence of Soul in all diverse forms of bodies ranging from humans to the animal species and the fish species and even the immovable plants and trees is important.

The soul is all pervasive and is abiding therein whatever the bodily form and is eternal, whereas the physical body is transient. The soul is immortal and hence Arjuna need not lament as it is always entering into various external forms until liberation is finally achieved.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 1 INTRODUCTION

Invoking the blessings of Sri Swami Desikan and Shri Krishna, I embark on this journey of gaining a deeper understanding of this great source of knowledge for the human kind – “Srimad Bhagavad Gita”!

As I began with this introduction, a friend came in to deliver me “Prasadam (Laddoo)” from Tirupati, signifying a divine blessing to begin this journey! With that, I begin my quest for gaining a deeper meaning of the purpose of our life.

The word “Gita” means song and Bhagavad Gita means the God’s song. The Bhagavad Gita is a spiritual text composed by Maharishi Veda Vyasa as revealed to him by Shri Krishna,  It comprises of a 700-verses and forms part of the great epic ‘Mahabharata’.

Gita is a quintessential part of the Prasthana Trayam, the holy books of Sanatana Dharma,. Prasthana trayam, literally, three sources (or axioms), or texts of Hindu philosophy, especially of the Vedanta schools:

  1. The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasthana (injunctive texts), and the Shruti Prasthana (the starting point or axiom of revelation), especially the Principal Upanishads.
  2. The Brahma Sutras, known as Nyaya Prasthana or Yukti Prasthana (logical text or axiom of logic)
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, known as Sadhana Prasthana (practical text), and the Smriti Prasthana (the starting point or axiom of remembered tradition)

Srimad Bhagavad Gita speaks about “the way of living, the nature of things and provides many paths to attain self-realisation.” It speaks about humanity, Reality and our place in that Reality, as well as the actions we are to take to find inner peace. It emphasizes the various forms of Yogas — ways in which humans can deal with the challenges of the ever-changing world and the constant vacillation of emotions of the mind. It deals with the path to wisdom and the relationship of self (Atma) with that of the ultimate Reality (ParamAtma).

The essence of the Gita is that it establishes a person’s right to question every aspect of life.  Sanatana Dharma (ancient wisdom) thrives on “tarka” or debate to explore and find “truth”.  There are many paths that lead to the Absolute truth and each path, followed with utmost faith and devotion, leads to Self-realisation and Salvation.

The Bhagavad Gita is set as a dialogue between a human, namely, Arjuna, and the God Reality, Shri Krishna. The dialogue between the two establishes the principle to question life and gain a true understanding.  Shri Krishna answers Arjuna’s many questions that clarify the confusions and doubts clouding Arjuna’s mind.

The core principles of Srimad Bhagavad Gita are:

  • The consciousness that exists in the macrocosm and the consciousness that exists in each one of us is one and the same. If one understand what upholds one’s being, one can understand the consciousness that sustains and upholds the Cosmos.
  • Everything is composed of matter (that which forms matter) called “Prakriti”, and Spirit or Consciousness called “Purusha”.
  • The life on Earth has only one purpose – to know the spiritual foundation that sustains and upholds the cosmos and all that is there.
  • Humans are capable of this self-realisation, which is knowing the Absolute.

The knowledge found within the Bhagavad-Gita is incomparable as it gives specific information regarding the purpose of human existence, the immortality of the soul and our eternal relationship with God. This information applies to each and every one of us without exception. Without realization of our divine relationship with the God it is impossible to establish our eternal relationship with Him.

There are three paths which lead directly to establishing a relationship with God. According to the Bhagavad-Gita these paths have been designated as the yoga of perfect actions, the yoga of perfect devotion and the yoga of perfect knowledge. These three paths have been fully explained in the Bhagavad-Gita, within chapter 23 to 40 in the Bhishma-Parva of Mahabharata.

The Bhagavad-Gita consists of 18 chapters and each chapter is called a Yoga. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. So each chapter is a specialized yoga revealing the path of attaining realization of the Ultimate Truth.

The first six chapters have been classified as the Karma Yoga section as they deal with the realisation of the Ultimate Consciousness through actions.

The middle six chapters are known as the Bhakti Yoga as they principally pertain to the path of devotion to attain communion with the Ultimate Consciousness.

The final six chapters are regarded as the Jnana Yoga as they explain the science of the attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness through the intellect.

Aum ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya |
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah ||
Meaning: I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.

जय श्री कृष्णाJai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat